Inner Strength: How Mental Toughness Drives Success
Great athletes take care of their minds alongside their bodies. Physically, you need water and nutrition, warm-ups and cool-downs, cross-training for strength and endurance alongside normal practices. Mentally, it’s the same story: we need to make sure we’re getting reassurance, encouragement, and support.
With the right combination of mental resources, athletes develop a special kind of inner strength. Mistakes stop slowing them down. They don’t feel as nervous before competitions, and they work harder to recover from injuries. They are courageous, confident, and focused under pressure.
That’s mental toughness. Check out our Deep Dive to get into the science behind it, the truth about where it comes from, and how you can work alongside student-athletes to help them develop it for themselves. Download now:
Top Mental Barriers: Mental Toughness
WHAT IT IS
Mental toughness manifests in different ways. And with pundits and broadcasters using the term to describe everything from self-confidence to self-control, it can be tough to nail down what it is or where it comes from.
Scientists break it down into resilience and consistency. Resilience is a resource—it’s the energy, motivation, and mental bandwidth that you have to cope with challenges and setbacks. Confidence is something you build, reinforcing your natural determination with reliable routines and social accountability.
Why it Matters for Athletic Performance
Mental toughness is a protective factor. In other words, if everything is going well on your team, in your personal life, during practice, and in competitions, you don’t really need much of it.
But when things get hard, mentally tough athletes are able to beat our opponents who aren’t as resilient or prepared. When you miss a shot or lose a match, pull a muscle or get torn down by criticism, mental toughness gives you the strength to keep going without losing focus or energy. It’s one of the fundamental ingredients of great athletic performance.
How to Improve
Our Deep Dive explores how to build mental toughness on your own, and how to help others do it for themselves. We describe what it is, what it isn’t, and how to think about it in useful ways. And we make sure that when you’re done reading, you’re ready to make a difference to your team. Download here:
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